Today, it would be difficult to find anyone who didn’t know what an e-mail note was, but for those of us old enough to remember life without microwaves and postage stamps for six cents, e-mail is a relatively new invention.
Why is this important in writing? Because there is still a question mark as to whether electronic mail should be written “e-mail” or “email.” In trying to make a definitive choice, as both forms seem acceptable, I went to the two authorities of style, the AP Stylebook and the Chicago Manual of Style.
Now, the AP (Associated Press) Stylebook is an old friend from my days in journalism school. It is the standard manual of style for news reporters all around the country. The site requires a login, but luckily I found a blog article from Mashable Social Media in March of 2011. Mashable’s Adam Ostrow headlined his blog post, “AP Stylebook Finally Changes “e-mail” to “email.” At the time it was breaking news, along with AP’s move to “website” as a compound word.
The Chicago Manual of Style, the bible for my publisher’s style choices has a different view: “Q. What is your opinion regarding the use of “email,” instead of “e-mail” (no hyphen or hyphen)?
A. I like it—but it’s not Chicago style.”
So there you have it. A term in transition. More and more people seem to be dropping the hyphen from the abbreviated “electronic” and melding it directly into common usage as a specific term of common knowledge. Who knew we were on the cutting edge of language development?
Just an interesting side note. I found the Chicago Manual of Style answer on a page labeled “The Chicago Manual of Style Online”– no hyphen in the on-line. Maybe we’ll see a new look from these style mavins soon.
For now, I’ll have to stick with e-mail, but I personally prefer email. Won’t you send me some in either style?